Rok Hwang is a hands-on designer — literally, he tries on his designs before they hit the rack. Speaking about his creative process, Hwang told us he and his team wear the clothes around town like a fashion test drive. Hwang’s in-depth approach to fashion lends itself especially well to his latest work, a collaboration with Canada Goose and artist Matt McCormick that includes accessories, sweaters, and — of course — outerwear. Canada Goose x rokh x Matt McCormick, available in stores as of September 7th, synthesizes all three parties to make a collection that blends Matt McCormick’s awe-inspiring landscapes and Rokh’s detailed silhouettes with the high-performance functionality of Canada Goose. Speaking with Rok Hwang, we learned how it all came together.
An organic connection paved the way for the team up — in spite of the three prolific names involved, Hwang told us, the line is very much a grassroots affair. “I was having a conversation with one of my friends, who was a huge inspiration in the industry, called Sara Andelman. She had a really good connection with Canada Goose,” Hwang said. “I wanted to work with something very iconic, she thought this could be a really fun project to work with, and then, I think, it just happened naturally.” Together with Matt McCormick, the project took shape as a “unique tri-collaboration,” which Hwang called “a new way of working together.”
Holding the knits and hems under a microscope, it’s easy to see how Hwang’s tailoring prowess informed the looks: cinched silhouettes and versatile puffer jackets reveal a connection to the Rokh founder. Hwang brought these bespoke qualities — along with deep technical knowledge and a natural kindness — to the collaboration.
These garments, with their fine-woven silhouettes and flattering palettes, bear the unmistakeable mark of a seasoned designer. Before starting his own label, Hwang honed his skills with a robust resume that includes stints at Louis Vuitton and Céline. He characterizes this time as a period of experimentation: “I mean, as a person and also as a designer, you know, we all experience different phases, right?” He said. “When I was working, I really got to learn about sophistication, and perfecting the clothing. I think now, building my own wardrobe, all my experience is mixed together. I spent my time really finding my own visual language.”
Constructing a sense of personal style is easier said than done — for a fashion designer, it often means experimenting with different figures, fabrics, and signature garments. Even for an experienced designer like Hwang, the creative process requires attention to detail. The team trials garments in the real world before finalizing their designs: “We go out and try to style [the garment] and then walk around the street to see how we feel in it,” he said. “Colleagues, and many of my friends try [them] on. Real people, who surround me, who surround the community. I think [they are] my inspiration.” Fittingly, Canada Goose x rokh x Matt McCormick tailors jackets to wrap around your shoulders like a warm hug. Hwang fashions sleek contours from cutting-edge fabrics, infusing high-performance Canada Goose material with the sophistication that Rokh is known for.
Hwang blurs more than the line between form and function, though — the collaboration challenges gendered fashion in a manner that’s as nonchalant as it is radical. “I think the line has been blurred for a very long time now,” said Hwang when asked about masculine and feminine fashion. “I never really follow the rules. I wanted to really think open,” he added, “because for me, this is really not about the gender. I really highlight the actual cut of the garment, or the construction. I never really thought — and also was never really affected by — the gender differences.”
Hwang is decidedly invested in personal style, connecting with each customer on an individual level. His pieces aren’t made to fit into traditional categories, but he isn’t interested in creating new ones, either. Instead, Hwang designs pieces that can adapt to fit anyone’s lifestyle, gender, or wardrobe aesthetic.
“I designed these garments, and the collection, to be really versatile,” he said. The campaign highlights flexibility — shots feature models bringing the garments on off-road adventures, down city streets, and inside the office. “The garment is easily transformable; it adapts to your life. You can wear it outside, live in the open, or you can be a bit more formal or sophisticated about it,” he added.
With edgy profiles, the clothes are certainly comfortable on a city sidewalk; the graphics, however, take inspiration from wide open terrain. Artist Matt McCormick — the third side of the collaboration — has garnered acclaim for his depictions of California’s sun-bleached desert scenes. At first, daylight pastels and blazing suns seem worlds away from Canada Goose’s home turf. With Hwang’s Paris-trained hand, however, the clothing captures a sense of adventure shared between the Arctic Circle and southwest sands. “[Matt’s] sense of adventure… when I see Matt’s work, I always feel that, you know? And when I see Canada Goose original items, I always feel like I need to go somewhere,” Hwang shared.
The garments themselves are equipped for off-road and outdoor travel, constructed with the finest eco-friendly, durable material that Canada Goose is known for. Hwang was quick to note that — although the designs retain Rokh features including signature trenchcoat-like silhouettes — they’re made from a fabric that’s fully weatherproof, with a subtle and soft feel.
An idea of convergence threads the collection together, blurring the lines between feminine and masculine, formal and streetwear, outdoor-ready and office-appropriate. When fashion and function come together, they create boundary-pushing products. These garments owe a debt to Hwang’s broad, international training and travels: his history informs the collection’s palette and construction.
“I often do actually think about my background and roots, my history where I learned, stayed, or got influenced by,” he mused when asked about the connection. The cool grey tones of Seoul’s metropolitan skyline, the trench coats for London’s foggy skies, the bold landscapes of Austin, the classic techniques taught in Paris — all these places were home, in some form, for Hwang. In his work, cosmopolitan settings manifest as graphite, charcoal-blacks; they couple with sun-bleached, nature-inspired prints, resulting in a versatile quality that fits in anywhere.
If there’s one key takeaway from the collection, it’s a focus on individuality. Hwang emphasizes adaptability and personal connection, encouraging his audience to feel the clothing for themselves: “I would really recommend trying it on. That’s the key magic that, you know, you feel like it’s different — it will really hug your body.” In case you’re busy adventuring, though, you can find the full collection online.